Classical World, Etruria, late Bronze Age to early Iron Age, ca. 900 to 700 BCE. An incredibly rare, well-preserved cast bronze sword with a decorated blade and a fitted sheath. The sword has a short, sharply pointed blade, with a flanged hilt and a square-edged crescent pommel (also known as a T-shape sword). Below the pommel, the hilt has a gentle diamond shape that then widens into a guard just above the integral, triangular blade. Four rivets remain for attaching some material to the handle - ivory, bone, amber, etc. that would have looked beautiful in contrast with the bronze. The blade has a raised, triangular ridge, and, just barely visible through the turquoise patina, decorative incised geometric lines down the sides of the ridge. Size of sword: 1.95" W x 17.5" H (5 cm x 44.4 cm); size of sheath: 2.15" W x 14.4" H (5.5 cm x 36.6 cm); 8.7" H (22.1 cm) on included custom stand.
This sword is of the type known as Pontecagnano, after an Etruscan cemetery found in the modern day small town of the same name, located south of Naples in Campania. However, swords of similar type have been found throughout the Etruscan world, including in the famous Etruscan cemetery at Tarquinia and also in Vulci. The sheath is made of bronze sheet, with a paler green patina, a triangular form, and a globular terminal below a disc. Low relief, thin lines flow down the sheath to reach a point just above the disc.
During the early Iron Age, the Etruscans adopted the "Italic" style of T-shaped swords, some of which even had figural scenes, telling stories about hunting, incised on their faces. Some researchers have theorized that all of these swords originated at a particular workshop located in Pontecagnano itself. We know of them from Etruscan graves, where most people were cremated and buried in pit tombs alongside swords and daggers. Fascinatingly, during this time period, there seems to have been an egalitarian ideology, with most graves having the same level of rich grave goods.
See a similar example at the National Archaeological Museum of Florence (Italy), found in Tomb 1 at Tarquinia, and another at the British Museum: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=400575&partId=1
Provenance: ex private Cyrpus, Texas, USA collection, acquired at Royal Athena Gallery, New York, USA, Ex Axel guttman collection, Germany, acquired in the 1980s
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